Hall of Shame – Superannuation Theft

Australian workers have lost out on more than $17 billion in superannuation payments since 2009 from shonky operators and businesses now at the centre of tax office and government probes.

After a lifetime of work, all Australians deserve a comfortable retirement. For most people their superannuation will play an important part in helping them secure a modest lifestyle.

Superannuation underpayments – or in some cases non-payments – are theft.

Australian workers were short-changed more than $3.27bn in super payments during fiscal 2014-15, according to an Australian Tax Office study, with construction companies, retailers, food services and accommodation providers among the worst offenders.

A new Senate report reveals an even more alarming scale of theft, with as much as $5.6 billion a year in workers’ superannuation being underpaid by employers.

The report also says there is overwhelming evidence the ATO spends too much time sitting on its hands waiting for workers to file a complaint and not enough ensuring employers were meeting their obligations.

The economic references committee’s report highlights one case where a group of workers who complained to the ATO heard nothing for three years. The workers then got a letter telling them the company had gone into liquidation and the ATO could do nothing for them.

The committee took evidence that as many as 2.76 million employees across Australia are underpaid $5.6 billion in super annually.

Superannuation underpayment is most common among small businesses, but the practices of some of Australia’s largest companies are also under investigation.

The Commonwealth Bank has been accused of refusing to pay the full employer superannuation entitlement to more than 7,000 part-time workers.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) claims some of the bank’s lowest-paid workers have been “ripped off” on the compulsory employer component since 2009.

FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said the underpaid part-time Commonwealth Bank (CBA) staff work in branches, call centres and administration areas with set hours each week.

The CBA has been ripping off some of its lowest-paid staff since at least 2009.

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